Reading for professional learning and growth can be frustrating. While authors need to convince readers that they know what they are talking about and that the content they are presenting is true and backed up by research, this can often lead to dense, slow, and overly-detailed writing. There are two types of PD reads – theory and practice – and there are lots and lots of offerings out there. It is important to think about what you want to come away with after your reading when making your choice.
It can be difficult at times to tell what you are going to get when you order some of these books. While the description might sound appropriate, I have had multiple experiences with receiving a book that is much more theory than I had anticipated. I truly appreciate it when publishers like Heinemann and Stenhouse allow me to see some of the book before purchase so I can avoid this disappointment.
I have to confess that I am an impatient reader when engaged in reading for PD. I am all about improving my practice as an educator. As a classroom teacher I have a specific agenda when I sit down with one of these books and that is to take away some concrete tools, ideas, and techniques to use to improve student learning and experiences. Given that I have limited personal funds to spend on PD books I have some criteria I use when choosing. I look for:
- clear organization
- real world examples of use with students in multiple content areas
- access to actual files, copies of the tools used or explained in the book, a dedicated website, and/or study guide
Nothing makes me happier than finding a professional book that I can dig into! There is a real excitement in finding a new technique that I think will open my kids’ eyes or enhance their learning. Here are some of my favorites: